AMAZON is now going head-to-head with iTunes. The company launched its digital music store yesterday, offering 2.3 million tracks. Songs cost as little as 89 cents, come at a high bitrate, and not one of them is crippled by DRM. As a result, they work with almost any device on the market. Universal and EMI, along with thousands of independent labels, are selling music on Amazon MP3. The site is drawing early praise, and seems to be the first legitimate challenger to iTunes.
KEVIN MARTIN has come out in support of the antitrust lawsuit against cable programmers and operators, which seeks to force “a la carte” programming. The FCC Chairman said he would prefer a voluntary offering of the service, but supports any effort to give consumers more control over the channels they receive. Martin has stated that the FCC has no legal authority to require a la carte, but openly supports legislation that pushes operators in that direction.
ANHEUSER-BUSCH will extend the life of Bud.TV through 2008. The branded online TV venture is currently averaging only 50,000 uniques per month, a steady decline from its launch peak of 250,000. The company is taking an experimental approach, tweaking the site and learning from its failures. The venture offers a simple, valuable lesson in online video: one of the site’s most successful videos was viewed over 3 million times. On YouTube.
VONAGE has lost another patent infringement lawsuit. Yesterday, the beleaguered VOIP provider was found to have willfully infringed on six patents held by Sprint. The company will have to pay $69.5 million in damages. In March, the company lost an infringement case with Verizon, and was ordered to pay $58 million in damages.
NYC TV has embraced online video, with a stylish new player backed by Brightcove technology. The city’s Emmy-winning official station has made much of its content available for free, and more will be added weekly. The shows are well-produced and provide interesting perspectives of our city. Next time you’re video-snacking, stop by NYC TV’s new player. “Secrets of New York” is especially intriguing.